Previewing the Euro 2012 Semifinals

by Claire Mahoney

The semifinals for the UEFA Euro 2012 have been set. On Sunday, Italy beat England in penalty kicks after a grueling 120-minute match. Italy is set to play undefeated Germany on Thursday, at 2:30 p.m. The “Battle of Iberia,” Spain versus Portugal, is set to take place Wednesday at 2:30 p.m.

The final four teams represent the remnants of groups B and C. Both groups A and D have been eliminated from the tournament.

Germany, one of the youngest teams in the tournament, should beat Italy, after unleashing a torrential scoring force on Greece in a 4–2 win. Germany has not lost a game in competition since the FIFA World Cup semifinal loss to Spain in 2010. Since then it has won 15 consecutive matches.

Still, according to a UEFA report, some German players would have preferred the opportunity to play England.

“They suit us better,” said defender Holger Badstuber. Captain Philipp Lahm added: “I would prefer England, just because it would be great to have a classic in the semi-final.” Attacking midfielder Marco Reus offered that “[English striker Wayne] Rooney is an outstanding player, but we are the better team.”

A Germany–England game would have been spectacular. Both teams play in a more classic style and are generally more physical and aggressive. Instead, Germany will have to face Italy, known more for their finesse on the ball than for brute aggression. Germany has yet to win a competitive game against Italy.

It’s harder to handicap Spain and Portugal. Both teams play in a similar manner, focusing on possession and passing. The last time the two played each other was in June of 2010 during the FIFA World Cup. Spain won 1–0. However, in a November 2010 scrimmage, Portugal beat Spain in a shocking 4–0 win, proving that they have the skill to defeat the Spanish powerhouse. Most likely, Spain will prevail, but there is always the threat of a phenomenal game from Portugal’s star forward Cristiano Ronaldo, the tournaments leader in shots taken.

The final game of the Euro is set to take place Sunday, July 1. The champion team will receive 196 million euros ($281.55 million). Germany has played Portugal before, beating them 1–0; and Spain has played Italy, resulting in a 1–1 tie. If Spain and Germany win their semifinal matches, both teams will have reached the final game of the Euro in both 2008 and 2012. In the 2008 final, Spain beat Germany 1–0.

For the sheer sake of entertainment, I hope the final match will be between Portugal and Germany. The flair of Ronaldo and midfielder Nani for Portugal, and the strength of Germany, will set the stage for a competitive match. Portugal would be the underdog, coming up to defeat the streaking Germans.

Italy-beats-England review here.

Speculation on Spain and Portugal here.